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New England Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing records

Collection MS-1989-008: New England Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing records


  • Creation: 1881 - 1990
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1900 - 1989

Scope and Contents

The New England Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing (NEDH SON) records consist of administrative and student materials that document the school’s trajectory from its opening in 1896 to its shuttering in 1989, nearly 100 years later. Many diverse material types record this history: in addition to administrative records, the collection includes audiovisual materials such as audiocassettes, reel-to-reel, and VHS tapes; a large number of photographs and prints; institutional and personal scrapbooks with photographs and clippings; and artifacts such as uniform items and medical instruments. The bulk of the NEDH SON materials were created by administrative offices under the school’s authority. Student-created materials and artifacts from a variety of sources are also well-represented.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research. Student records less than 50 years old, including microfilm student records, are closed. Some faculty records and other materials are also closed due to privacy restrictions; please consult the Archivist for more information. Portions of this collection are stored off-site. Please allow 24-48 hours for retrieval.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Historical note

New England Deaconess Hospital (NEDH) opened in 1896, rooted in the Methodist deaconess movement in Germany. Deaconesses are ordained religious women who participate in missionary work and care for the sick. The New England Home and Training School for deaconesses had opened in Boston in 1889, and the first superintendent, Mary E. Lunn, led the drive for an associated hospital that would allow for hospital-trained nurses to instruct students. The hospital opened in a converted brownstone, a comfortable, homelike environment intended to complement the deaconesses’ role in patient care. In 1898, the first class of three graduated from New England Deaconess Hospital’s nursing school. In 1899, non-deaconesses were allowed to attend, and by 1904 the course had increased to three years, including a probationary period.

In 1913 the NEDH School of Nursing (NEDH SON) became associated with Simmons College, which allowed nursing students to take science courses in addition to their hospital training. By 1922, the training school for deaconesses had merged with the Department of Religious Education at Boston University, leaving their facilities to the sole use of the expanding School of Nursing. Increased secularization, professionalization, and specialization in the medical field meant more women were becoming nurses rather than deaconesses, and NEDH began attracting specialists like Dr. Elliot P. Joslin, an authority on diabetes and one of the first to use insulin treatment. Despite the institution’s gradual move away from an overtly religious mission, non-Protestants were not widely admitted to the School of Nursing until 1951.

Nursing education shifted from diploma schools like the NEDH School of Nursing to college programs in the 1960s. In 1963, the School of Nursing ended its association with Simmons College and became affiliated with Northeastern University, providing students an opportunity to also receive bachelor’s degrees. It also became more common for students to attend Boston University. The federal Nurse Training Act of 1964 meant that diploma and collegiate schools of nursing were eligible for federal grants and student loans. Ellen D. Howland, director of the School of Nursing from 1956-1985, became an assistant director of NEDH in 1967, long before her peers in nursing were similarly valued.

Although the School of Nursing scored in the top rankings of diploma schools throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, the strong trend towards collegiate degrees in nursing education, combined with the hospital’s need for space, resulted in the decision in 1986 to close the School of Nursing. The last class entered in September 1986 and graduated in May 1989, after which the School of Nursing was officially closed.


Brauer, Carl M. New England Deaconess Hospital: A Century of Caring. Boston, Mass.: Deaconess Hospital, 1995.

“The History of BIDMC,” Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, accessed January 30, 2013,


154.5 Linear Feet (143 containers )

Language of Materials



The New England Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing (NEDH SON) records consist mainly of administrative materials that document the school’s trajectory from its opening in 1896 to its shuttering in 1989. The collection includes audiovisual materials, building records, correspondence, course materials, financial records, microfilm, photographs, publications and printed matter, scrapbooks, student records, and yearbooks, as well as a number of artifacts such as syringes, nurses’ uniforms, and other articles relating to the history of nursing and to the school.


This collection is arranged alphabetically in twelve series: I. Administrative records; II. Alumni Association; III. Artifacts and memorabilia; IV. Audiovisual department records and materials; V. Buildings and facilities; VI. Course materials; VII. Financial records; VIII. Nursing organizations; IX. Photographs and prints; X. Publications; XI. Scrapbooks; and XII. Student records.

Series I. Administrative records is arranged in ten subseries: A. Accreditation and testing; B. Admissions; C. Annual reports; D. Coordinating agency records; E. Correspondence and subject files; F. Curriculum review; G. Faculty and staff records; H. Minutes; I. Special events; J. Studies and surveys. Subseries I. Special events is further divided into three sub-subseries: 1. Anniversaries and reunions; 2. Candlelighting ceremonies; 3. Graduation.

Series IV. Audiovisual department records and materials has five subseries: A. Department materials; B. Audiocassettes; C. Film and videocassettes; D. Microfilm; E. Slides.

Series VI. Course materials is arranged in six subseries: A. Clinical course material; B. Course evaluations; C. Course outlines and study guides; D. Examinations; E. Lectures and student notes; F. Program evaluations.

Series XII. Student records is arranged in five subseries: A. Diplomas; B. Grades, evaluations, and student papers; C. Graduate records; D. Roll books; E. Student activities and ephemera.

Original order has been preserved where possible.


Gift of New England Deaconess Hospital, 1989, 1994, 2013.

Related Materials

Nurses and nursing:

Josephine A. Dolan collection of nursing history, MS.1988.004, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Madeleine Clémence Vaillot papers, MS.1989.011, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Margaret A. Colliton papers, MS.1990.010, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Cynthia E. Northrop papers, MS.1998.002, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Nursing associations:

Visiting Nurse Association of Boston records, MS.1989.006, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

The American Association of Nurse Attorneys records, MS.1997.018, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Nursing schools:

New England Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing records, MS.1989.008, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

St. Elizabeth’s Hospital School of Nursing collection, MS.2000.018B, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.


AKKH: Audrey K. Kennedy Hall. The last dormitory constructed to house students at NEDH.

ANA: American Nurses Association.

ASNSA: American Society for Nursing Service Administrators.

CDP: Council of Diploma Programs, a branch within the National League for Nursing and the Massachusetts League for Nursing.

MARILN: Massachusetts/Rhode Island League for Nursing.

MHA: Massachusetts Hospital Association.

MLN: Massachusetts League for Nursing.

MNA: Massachusetts Nurses Association.

MSSN: Massachusetts Senate of Student Nurses. Had working relationships with the Massachusetts Nursing Association as well as the National Student Nurses Association.

NCLEX: National Council Licensure Examination.

NEACAC: New England Association for College Admission Counseling.

NEDH SON: New England Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing.

NEON: New England Organization for Nurses.

NLN: National League for Nursing.

NLNE: National League of Nursing Education. An accrediting body for nursing schools that merged with two other organizations to become the National League for Nursing in 1952.

NSNA: National Student Nurses Association.

SNAM: Student Nurses Association of Massachusetts.

  • Invoices, resumes, catalogs, receipts, checks, acquisition lists, duplicates, broken artifacts, personnel records. See attachment to accession record for full details.
  • Correlation charts, 1945-1962 - record periods of training in various areas, much like rotation charts
  • Newsletter of the Boston Society of Architects
New England Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing Records
1881-1990 (bulk 1900-1989)
Stephanie Bennett, Alexandra Bisio, and Adrienne Pruitt
May 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States